The studio album needs to be separated from the live side, which is difficult as they were released together, and so always will be. Heard alone, 'Everybody's In Showbiz' is a brilliant document of the grind and drudgery of being forever on the road. Has anyone ever released a better, more eloquent study of this life that in fact every band goes through? Even the slightly woozy rhythm to the tunes mirrors the disorientated band not knowing what town they are in that night, where they were yesterday and where tomorrow, though every day is predictable.
The sound is muddy and so is an obvious and outstanding candidate for the remastering it has recently received. The words and the wit often get lost when not paying full attention (while standing directly beside the speaker). No-one ever talks about the song 'Motorway'; presumably cleaned up and uncovered now. The wise wit begins when you realize that it sounds very much like the tune of a funny and illuminating ditty by Woody Guthrie, while the words fit it like a glove. Listen closely and every line is packed with witty observation. It's very much like the best bits of the far more celebrated song, 'Holiday' from Muswell Hillbillies' (the sea like an open sewer), but keeps it up throughout the entire song without let-up. The chorus has far more punch and wit than the infinitely more celebrated 'Celluloid Heroes', which suffers from being at too stately a pace, dragging each time the chorus arrives. "Ooh motorway living; ain't it a thrill to be so free" hits the spot with the still-intact Davies precision. The listener is there with Ray knowing exactly how tiresome it all is but at the same time delighted at hearing it put this way:
"Gasoline fumes are the worst to inhale. Your stomach turns over and your face turns pale."
"Motorway tea is warm and wet. Rain is pouring and it's four in the morning, and it's all I can get"
"You never seen loos like motorway loos, thousands of people passing through. It's enough to put you off of that motorway food."
"Motorway food is invariably fried. It feeds me and keeps me and helps me survive."
"I never thought I'd travel so far to work."
This album unfortunately predates 'Soap Opera' in back-loading rather than frontloading the great tracks. It becomes quite ordinary in the history of the Kinks' discography to find albums that leave the best tracks out of the first couple, via the idea of a rounded piece of work with everything in its place thought of as more important than getting the tasty morsels upfront to tempt listeners to try the rest. But with these two albums especially, it appears to pioneer the concept of the 'backwards album' more than anything else. The Kinks invented the backwards album, something even The Who still now haven't thought of!
'Sitting In My Hotel', 'Motorway', 'Supersonic Rocket Ship', 'Look on The Sunnyside', 'Celluloid Heroes' - five of the last six songs - how about that as the hugely impressive beginning to a Kinks album? ! It wasn't to be, but these songs can stand tall in the Kinks' Katalog.